Datakortet and Norsk Test administer certifications via 400 test centers and support vocational training with lower-stakes assessments

Background

Datakortet is a Norwegian testing services organization with some 400 test centers. The company administers many national and international exams, including the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) exam, which tests basic computer skills in seven areas including word processing, spreadsheets and Internet/email. Through its subsidiary, Norsk Test, the company runs several other national accreditations related to finance, banking, and information technology as well as leisure activities such as boating and hunting.

Boosting Technological Skills

The ECDL is widely used in most European countries as a certificate of competence in information technology. (Outside Europe the program is called the International Computer Driving Licence). Millions of people worldwide have taken this test, which in Norway is created and administered using Questionmark's Assessment Management System. Questionmark created a test center administration package that enables Datakortet to deploy assessments via its nationwide network of test centers and transfer all test results nightly to a special database for record keeping and detailed analysis.

Norsk Test has developed advanced tests for the national adult vocational training organisation in helping people increase their abilities to use information technology. Participants learn a wide variety of skills related to technology-related activities: everything from booking a vacation or selling a care online to connecting a DVD player to a television.

Using Innovative Question Types, Simulations and Branching

Datakortet and Norsk Test CEO Bernt Nilsen says that the ability to create hot-spot, drag-and-drop and simulation questions in Questionmark enables Datakortet/Norsk Test to provide tests that more accurately measure participants’ knowledge and skills while at the same time making the tests interesting and engaging.

The company creates simulations designed to pose realistic situations to test takers. People learning how to sell their cars via the Internet, for example, are presented with a browser and must click through the sales process, navigating to sales sites, registering the model and year of the car, and so on. If the person clicks on the wrong menu or provides the wrong type of information they are alerted to the problem and taken to the next question. These simulations utilize Macromedia Flash files. Scores from the simulations are combined with scores from regular multiple choice questions to produce a final grade.

Using Questionmark's branching capabilities, Datakortet creates adaptive tests that direct participants to different sets of questions according to how they answer some preliminary questions. This helps channel learners into tests that match their skill level while offering the same test for everyone.

“By using an adaptive test you do not have to stigmatize people before the test by saying, ‘you look like you should do the easy test,’” Nilsen explains.

Security Measures for Higher- and Lower-Stakes Tests

Questionmark's Assessment Platform enables Datakortet to select appropriate security levels for different types of assessments. Certifications require a dual log-on utilizing Questionmark’s monitoring feature: a test leader must log on before a candidate can access an assessment.

Candidates for many exams can take tests either at one of Datakortet’s testing centers or in other test centers or city halls. The company checks on each of these additional centers to ensure that it is legally registered and has a secure firewall, robust internal systems and a suitably qualified test leader or proctor.

Datakortet have had success with their “pay-your-test-with-your-mobile” concept. A number of non-certification tests are available on their web site. People pay for the test by sending a text message and receive the necessary password in return. The test is paid for by debiting their telephone bill.

For a lower-stakes assessment such as diagnostic tests and knowledge checks, all that’s required is a user name and password. Participants can take these non-certification assessments, at the office, at home – anywhere they like. The company also offers demonstration assessments to show potential test takers the user interface.

Replacing Paper-Based Tests Nationwide

Norsk Test has persuaded several national awarding bodies of the benefits of online versus paper-based testing, including the department responsible for country’s mandatory national hunting diploma.

“It was impossible to calculate the pass rate for the old paper-based test, because people who sent in their score once they’d passed,” recalls Datakortet CEO Bernt Nilsen. “Nor did the awarding body know which questions people missed. The distribution of the paper test on an annual basis meant it was easy to obtain a copy of it before actually taking it.

“We’ve had our customers convert to electronic tests as quickly as possible so that we can document the questions and see how they are performing,” adds Nilsen. “With Questionmark's question statistics and item analysis reports, we can show people what’s a good question and what’s a bad question. By helping to improve the quality of questions we can ensure fairness.”